[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-22)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 17 07:10:14 CDT 2003


FOR NEW READERS of this series, it may be worthwhile to go back to  the Introduction  about the objective of this Digest and the Note on the Organization (both at advaitin Message No.18425; ambaa-L message no.5273; advaita-L message No.14046; Sadhana_shakti message no.334). 

Let us recall that  the entire contents of the Digest are from the Paramacharya’s ideas and words, including the first person reference to himself,  except for my English rendering. Wherever he uses specific English words himself, I have drawn the attention of the reader to that fact. Recall particularly that ‘our Acharya’ or ‘The Acharya’ in the discourses, means ‘Adi Sankaracharya’.

V. Krishnamurthy


A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari -  22

(Digest of pp.861-866 of Deivathin Kural Vol.6, 4th imprn)



The third line of the seventh sloka is:

 ‘dhanur-bANAn pAshaM sRNimapi dadhAnA karatalaiH’.


 ‘Holding by the hands the bow, the arrows, the noose and the spear’ is the meaning. ‘sRNi’ means ‘ankusha’, the spear. These four are the specifics that determine now the deity of dedication in this stotra. And so we may be certain now that the deity that is being praised is the deity of the ShrI vidyA mantra, namely lalitA-tripura-sundari or Kameshwari. If we are not very ‘technical’ about it, it is also  the same as Raja-Rajeshwari. When ambaaL is in this form, She has four hands, with the noose and spear  in the two upper hands and the bow and arrows in the two lower hands. Manmatha, the God of Love has the same bow of sugarcane and the same arrows of flowers.


There are two things: rAga (attachment and liking); and dvesha (hate and dislike). The former gives rise to kAma (desire) and the latter gives rise to krodha (anger). Desire and anger have to be kept in control. Of course all these are born out of the great divine mAyic play of ambaaL. And by the same leelA of ambAL, they disappear by Her Grace (anugraha). The very thought that they will so disappear by Her Grace will help us fight against them. 

‘rAga-swarUpa-pAshADhyA’ , meaning, She who holds the noose, which is ‘rAga’ in physical form   -- is one of Her many names in the lalitA-sahasranAma. Similarly, another name is ‘krodhA-karAnkushojjvalA’, meaning, She who shines by the spear, which is ‘krodha’ in physical form.


Of the twin of Desire and Anger, desire has the form of ambaaL’s noose (pAshaM). When you talk of ‘yama-pAshaM’ it is the noose. When you talk of mother’s pAsham (tAip-pAshaM, in Tamil) it is her attachment and affection and therefore her concern, her desire (AshA). It is the desire that binds us.  It binds us like a rope.


Anger has the form of ambaaL’s spear. Anger  pierces you like a spear. But it does not pierce the other man on whom you are angry. He may go away just like that, indifferently.  Our anger pierces only ourselves. The pierce of the spear will be felt by us only. And we hurt ourselves. Modern science tells us how  energy is wasted during anger and how much. What is more interesting is the further scientific fact – with which our scriptures agree – that whereas we exhibit anger (krodhaM) at something we don’t like and thus waste energy, the energy loss is more while we like something, desire it  and happily indulge in that desire (kAmaM). In fact, Desire is the ‘hita-shatru’ – enemy in the disguise of a friend.


The words ‘pAsham’ and ‘ankusham’ both ring a bell and bring the ‘elephant’ to our minds. The elephant is always tethered by a heavy chain to an anchor. The chain is actually a ‘rope of attachment’ (pAshak-kayiru, in Tamil) for the elephant. The twins ‘kAma’ and ‘krodha’ are elephant-like in their strength; so they have to be controlled  with effort in the same way an elephant is controlled by a ‘pAsham’ (rope) and ‘ankusham’ (spear). The man who rides and monitors the elphant uses the spear to control it.  The elephant-like evils of ‘kAma’ and ‘krodha’ are both in the mind. So it is the mind that has to be controlled. In fact in Sivanandalahari (sloka 96) our Acharya compares the human mind to a ‘madhepa’, meaning, a mad elephant.


Our ambaaL is always shown with a pAsham (noose) and ankusham (spear). This itself is Her leelA. They are Her important accessories. This is one way of looking at it.


Another way is this. She shows pAsham (affection, attachment) to us; so with the ‘pAsham’ (noose) in her hand  she binds us and pulls us away from all our worldly ‘pAshams’ (attachments) and makes us come back to Her with the cry ‘Oh Mother!’. And that gives us the attachment to the attachmentless Divine. ‘PatratrAn patru’ (in the language of Valluvar, in Tamil)!  Again, when we fall into the Anger mode, She brings her ‘ankusham’ (spear) on us and subdues our anger, by that very ankusham which stands in her hand as the personification of Anger (krodham) ! When Desire is unfulfilled it turns into Anger. The same Desire and Anger, in Her hands, in the form of the noose and the spear, become the cure for the two evils in human minds. 


Though our sloka in the Soundaryalahari mentions ‘bow’ and ‘arrow’ first and then mentions the ‘noose’ and ‘spear’, it is the ‘noose and spear’ that are special to ambAL. Manmatha the God of Love has the same bow and  arrows  both of which he uses to get mankind downward into sensuality. His bow draws man’s mind into sensuousness and his five arrows affect the five organs of cognition. 

But the same bow and five arrows in the hands of ambaaL work in a positive way as is vindicated by two names (that appear just immediately after the two names about rAga and krodha I mentioned a little while ago) in lalitA-sahasranAma, namely, ‘mano-rupekshhu-kodanDA’ and ‘pancha-tanmAtra-sAyakA’. 


The former means: ‘(She who has) the bow of sugarcane, the sugarcane being the figuration of the mind’. The latter name means: ‘(She who has) the five arrows that are the figurations of the five tanmAtras (= subtle principles behind the senses)’. 

The same sugarcane bow, which in Manmatha’s hands, draws man downward into sensuality, in Her hands, leads us upward by producing the ‘desire’  for moksha. The same five arrows of flowers, which in Manmatha’s hands, lead man’s five senses outward toward sense objects, in ambaal’s hands, makes us  desire, to see Her divine form, to hear the melody of  music in devotion to Her, to taste the sweetness of the nectar flowing from Her Grace, to smell the fragrance of the flowers that adorned Her, and to feel the touch of Her lotus feet.

(To be Continued)

PraNAms to all advaitins and Devotees of Mother Goddess.












Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
My website on Science and Spirituality is http://www.geocities.com/profvk/
You can  access my book on Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision and Practice,  and my father R. Visvanatha Sastri's manuscripts from the site.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list